Women’s goalie Fujimagari earns first-ever win for Canucks affiliate

The Canucks logo on the ice. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
The Canucks logo on the ice. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /

On Oct. 15, goaltender Mariah Fujimagari became the first woman, in the Vancouver Canucks’ ECHL affiliate Kalamazoo Wings history, to record a preseason win. Fujimagari entered the game in the third period, relieving starter Jonathan Lemieux, and stopped 14 of 17 shots to seal the victory in overtime.

For her efforts, the 29-year-old was named the Third Star of the Game, making the most of her tryout opportunity with the Canucks affiliate. The Wings and the ECHL are no strangers to growing the game for women; Molly McMaster played for Kalamazoo back in 2006, and Manon Rheaume appeared in seven ECHL games in her playing days, winning three.

Before joining up with the Wings on a tryout basis, Fujimagari played for the University of Maine for four years before heading to SKP Bratislava in Slovakia in the 2017-18 season. The Canadian shot-stopper returned to North America for the following season, spending one year with the Worcester Blades, the next with the Buffalo Beauts, and the following two with the Connecticut Whale before making a pitstop with AIK in Sweden.

"I couldn’t be happier to join the K-Wings. I’m going to make sure to set the tone from the start with a solid performance very day. I’m most excited to be a part of the Kalamazoo community and skate in front of the amazing fans.” – Mariah Fujimagari after joining the Wings"

Unfortunately, with a change in ownership, the PHF lost all of its players because their contracts were voided following the buyout. The league has rebranded to the PWHL and will return in 2024, but it had already displaced hundreds of female hockey players and leaving them without jobs.

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Fortuantely, Fujimagari is in safe hands with the Wings within the Canucks organization, and we’re sure this preseason win won’t be the last we hear of her.